TWO hundred spaces at a Liverpool council car park have been given to university staff - weeks after the authority said city work-ers should give up their contract spaces.
The move has fuelled a row among senior councillors trying to reduce the high number of city centre workers using their cars to get to work.
They say 40% of spaces in Liverpool are reserved for contract parking compared to about just 10% in rival cities.
A council consultation document says office workers should use buses, trains, or cycles to get to work, creating more spaces in car parks for shoppers and visitors to the city centre.
The 200 contract spaces have been given to Liverpool John Moores University who are planning to build a new centre next to the Mount Pleasant car park.
The new design centre will take up land currently used for car parking by staff.
The arrangement has angered Cllr Peter Millea, the council's executive director for regeneration.
He is the lead politician promoting the wide-ranging consultation on parking in the city centre.
He said: "I have learned by accident that the top floor of Mount Pleasant car park is to be leased as contract parking to the JMU.
That was not reported to me." He has asked senior officials for an explanation about how the arrangement was agreed, and whether it has already been signed.
The council wants to see a far lower level of contract parking, reducing the current level of spaces by several thousand.
The idea is that limiting contract spaces to levels seen in other cities will free spaces for visitors.
Existing contract users will be encouraged to use buses, trains, car sharing or other means of getting to their work places.
A spokesman for Liverpool City Council said: "Liverpool JMU is to investing £40m in this part of the city centre on a new arts centre close to Mount Pleasant.
"The new building will take up existing car parking space.
"The arrangement is for JMU to have 200 spaces on the top floor of the car park on Mondays to Fridays when the work on the new arts centre is being carried out.
"Work is not expected to start on the new building until next spring.
"We are also working with the JMU on a Work Travel Plan for staff."
The top floor of the car park is rarely used because lower floors accommodate car parkers.
The council says conclusions have yet to be reached on its parking strategy which is open to public consultation.